News Briefs – May 27, 2020

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North Korea’s Kim holds meeting to discuss bolstering nuke forces

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un convened a key military meeting to discuss bolstering its nuclear arsenal and putting the country’s strategic armed forces on a high alert, state media reported May 24, in his first known public appearance in about 20 days.
In early May, Kim quelled intense rumors about his health by attending a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer factory in his first public activities in 20 days. But he hadn’t again made any follow-up public appearance in about another 20 days until the state news agency said Sunday that he led a meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party.
“Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation,” the Korean Central News Agency said, without saying exactly when the meeting was held.
The meeting also discussed increasing the capabilities for deterring “the threatening foreign forces,” it said.
It was held amid a prolonged deadlock in negotiations with the United States over the North’s nuclear program. The two countries’ diplomacy faltered when a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in February 2019 ended without any agreement due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea.
Frustrated over the lack of progress, Kim later said he would unveil “a new strategic weapon” and would no longer be bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests. Kim hasn’t still followed through with those threats though he conducted a slew of short-range missile tests. AP
 

U.S. military says Russia deployed fighter jets to Libya

The U.S. military May 26 accused Russia of deploying fighter planes to conflict-stricken Libya to support Russian mercenaries aiding east-based forces in their offensive on the capital, Tripoli.
In a strongly worded statement, the U.S. Africa Command said the Russian military aircraft arrived in Libya recently from an airbase in Russia via Syria, where they were repainted to hide their Russian origin. AFRICOM did not say how many aircraft were transferred or when exactly they arrived in Libya.
There was no immediate comment from Moscow.
“For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now. We watched as Russia flew fourth generation jet fighters to Libya — every step of the way,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command.
AFRICOM said the aircraft were likely to provide close air support and offensive fire for the Wagner Group, a Russia-based state-sponsored company that employs mercenaries to fight alongside the eastern forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter.
L ibya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country is now split between a government in the east allied with Hifter and one in Tripoli, in the west, supported by the United Nations. AP
 
 
 

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